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Pakistan, Misbah and Whatmore

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Misbah-ul-Haq_Pakistan_CricketWith the Indian series in home conditions still in limbo, South Africa are likely to end up playing against only one sub-continent team, Pakistan through the next few months in Dubai and Sharjah. After being out with an injury, Graeme Smith is making a comeback in the Test team. Incidentally, this is South Africa’s first Test series after Gary Kirsten stepped away as their coach. With foreign teams still in no mood to tour Pakistan, the series is played across UAE; Pakistan’s adopted home. While this is an important away series for South Africa in the heat of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai and against Ajmal’s spin, the series is more crucial for Pakistan.

Pakistan have dropped out of form Hafeez and Riaz from their squad for the first test. Although Hafeez has been a part of the leadership group, he has been in the news more for his perceived differences with Misbah than for his performance. Riaz’s exclusion and Irfan’s recall once again highlight typically erratic selection styles present in Pakistan cricket. While Irfan’s performance in the first inning of the ongoing Test against South Africa was impressive, Pakistan’s incomprehensive selection policies are not.

Amidst these droppings and recalls, Pakistan have retained Misbah as their captain. For some time, Misbah has been heavily criticised by Pakistan cricket fans, legends and few factions within the team. Criticism of Misbah’s inconsistency as a captain and Pakistan’s performance across formats are valid. But to Misbah’s advantage, he is currently Pakistan’s best batsman; if not aesthetically then statistically. The youngsters like Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Khurram Manzoor and Asad Shafiq batted well in the first inning of first Test against South Africa. But such performances have been rare. Additionally, there is no better alternative (or a one that PCB trust) to captain Pakistan. For now, these two factors strengthen Misbah’s hold on captaincy.

Apart from the Pakistani players, this series is crucial for Dav Whatmore. Very recently, Ajmal in no uncertain terms stated Whatmore’s impact (or lack of it) on the Pakistan cricket team’s results. Even if Ajmal’s dissatisfaction (and eventual peace) is kept aside, Whatmore has not done anything noteworthy as Pakistan’s coach. Since he has taken over, Pakistan won 1 Test out of 8 with 5 losses and 2 draws. Their ODI record is slightly better. 16 wins in 34 games with 15 defeats, 2 tied games and a game with no result. In his defence, Pakistan’s T20 record – 12 wins in 18 games is not bad. But if his record is matched with his recent predecessors, Whatmore lags a great deal.

 Dav Whatmore as coach
Format Span Mat Won Lost Tied Draw/NR W/L
Test 4 Mar 2012 onwards 8 1 5 0 2 0.2
ODI 4 Mar 2012 onwards 34 16 15 2 1 1.06
T20I 4 Mar 2012 onwards 18 12 5 1 0 2.4
Mohsin Khan as coach
Format Span Mat Won Lost Tied Draw/NR W/L
Test 19 Sep 2011 - 3 Mar 2012 8 6 0 0 2 -
ODI 19 Sep 2011 - 3 Mar 2012 13 8 5 0 0 1.6
T20I 19 Sep 2011 - 3 Mar 2012 5 3 2 0 0 1.5
 Waqar Younis as coach
Format Span Mat Won Lost Tied Draw/NR W/L
Test 1 Mar 2010 - 18 Sep 2011 13 5 5 0 3 1
ODI 1 Mar 2010 - 18 Sep 2011 37 22 14 0 1 1.57
T20I 1 Mar 2010 - 18 Sep 2011 18 7 11 0 0 0.63

 

One may rightfully argue that a coach cannot always control the team’s on-field performance. But for someone who follows the ‘Moneyball’ ideology that values stats more than mere reputation, these stats are not good enough. With such a win-loss ratio and discontent among the Pakistan team over Whatmore, PCB have given no signs of wanting to extend Whatmore’s contract. Whatmore with another poor series will be a step closer from non-extension; PCB’s unpredictable decision-making notwithstanding.

Pakistan, in the past had its own share of thrilling moments in the Middle East. None better than England’s drubbing in 2012. And it shall inspire them to beat South Africa. While a result favouring Pakistan will save Misbah and Whatmore their jobs, it will bring relief for Pakistan cricket and hope for their fans. And if Pakistan intend to rebuff the series of defeats, the first three days are a great start.

Stats by: Karna Yajnik



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